NEW YORK -- Overseas tourist arrivals to the U.K. in August had
caught up with August arrivals in 2000, according to Jeff Hamblin,
chief executive of the British Tourist Authority, signaling a firm
recovery from the serious dropoff in arrivals triggered by the
outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease early this year.
"We had licked" that problem, he said, but, as with the rest of
the world's tourist destinations, U.K. tourism took a "severe
blow," when terrorists struck so destructively in the U.S. on Sept.
As reported, the U.K. is expected to lose about $3.75 billion in
inbound tourism receipts this year, and spending by overseas
visitors to Britain is expected to be down about 20% from 2000.
The BTA projects international arrivals to be off 15% to 25%,
said Keith Beecham, director of marketing services.
He said the BTA expects a further decline next year but will
attempt a reforecast in another month. He said no one can predict
travel patterns from the U.S. for the year 2002.
Hamblin and Beecham were among a number of BTA officials
visiting New York for events and meetings timed to coincide with
the two-week UKwithNY Festival, which runs through Oct. 28.
Beecham said London's experiences, with more empty seats and
theaters and restaurants, are comparable to those in New York. BTA
officials urged agents to use this time period, of uncrowded
conditions and discounted or negotiable prices, to schedule visits
to the U.K.
In support of the trade, Tim Lovell, BTA vice president USA,
also said the tourist authority will be a sponsor of the Red, White
and Blue Evening at the ASTA congress, which is set for Nov. 4 to 7
in New York.
The setback to U.K. tourism comes at a time when the nation's
tourism interests are gearing up to promote Queen Elizabeth's
Golden Jubilee in 2002. On a less grand scale, the tourist
authority also will promote sites of interest to Harry Potter fans,
in conjunction with the release of the Harry Potter movie in
Even with such attractions for luring American visitors, the
British interests find themselves emphasizing safety at their
destination, discounted travel product and the special relationship
between the U.S. and Britain.
Hamblin said that, although the U.K. had already been security
conscious as a result of IRA attacks over the years, London and the
airports are taking extra precautions. He said the London airports
(Heathrow and Gatwick) employ tighter security measures "than at
any airport in the world."
BTA said its Britain News publication soon will be relaunched as
a Web-only publication and will concentrate more than ever on
product descriptions and their prices, especially due to the Sept.
Lovell said, "Americans are looking for reassurances of security
and special price offers will encourage them" as well. He said the
U.S. and U.K. have a "very special" relationship and he expects the
U.K. will remain the top destination choice among Americans
He said telephone inquiries to the BTA fell 60% immediately
after Sept. 11 and have been rising and falling with later events,
meaning the air war in Afghanistan and the anthrax scare. Calls are
now at about half their pre-Sept. 11 rates.
Noting that different markets are expected to recover at varying
rates, Lovell said the BTA is doing a direct-mail campaign to the
gay and lesbian market this month. He said travelers from different
regions are expected to return to the U.K. at varying paces, as
The challenge, he and others agreed, is to prepare the right
promotion for delivery when it will be most effective.